Santander chairman Emilio Botin, one of the giants of world banking, has died of a heart attack aged 79.
The death of a man who built one of the world’s biggest banks out of what was a small domestic lender, could spark a shake up at the operation’s UK arm.
His daughter Ana Botin, who runs the business, is widely expected to be named as his successor after a board meeting later today.
She would be the fourth generation of the family to assume the role, but such a dynastic succession could lead to unhappiness among investors and governance watchdog.
The controversy over the troubled Banco Espirito Santo in next door Portugal, where the founding family’s holdings are under close scrutiny, has shined an unflattering light on banking dynasties.
Ms Botin’s promotion could by followed by the ascension of Nathan Bostock at the bank’s UK arm.
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He had been finance director at RBS for a matter of months only to be lured away from rival Royal Bank of Scotland to become Santander UK’s deputy chief executive.
Santander had formed a close alliance with RBS under Mr Botin. But it led to disaster for RBS when the two banks teamed up with Belgium’s Fortis to take over and break up ABN Amro.
But Mr Botin was widely seen to have run rings around his partners, with Santander taking the jewels in ABN’s crown leaving his partners with businesses that ultimately led to their going cap in hand to their respective home Governments for bail outs.Reuse content